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Central Texas has some of the best seats in the country for the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse April 8.

Schools across Austin are closing for the eclipse. A few big school districts are staying open.

A person looks up wearing eclipse glasses
Deborah Cannon
KUT News
Austin ISD said it’s working with county and city officials to ensure Monday classes won’t have a negative impact.

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While many Central Texas school districts will be closed during the April 8 total solar eclipse, Austin ISD is reiterating that its campuses will be open.

The reminder came after a handful of school districts in the Austin area announced earlier this month they were closing on the day of the eclipse. Del Valle, Hays, Lake Travis, Lago Vista and Manor school districts cited concerns about heavy traffic and other operational issues as people flock to the area to witness the eclipse totality.

Although Travis County has declared a local disaster ahead of the eclipse, Austin ISD said it’s working with county and city officials to ensure Monday classes won’t have a negative impact.

“Ultimately, we know the safest place for our students is our schools. Without our resources, thousands of students could miss out on this event,” Austin ISD said in a statement.

Those resources include more than 80,000 solar eclipse glasses that the district is distributing to all schools so that staff and students can view the once-in-a-lifetime event safely.

Danielle Perico, Austin ISD’s secondary director of STEM, said it’s exciting that kids will get to experience the eclipse while at school.

“We have lots of things planned for the day. We’ll have instruction as usual and then additional activities for the eclipse for our students to participate in,” she said.

Perico said all students will have the opportunity to be outside during the eclipse.

“We have also made recommendations of timing of when to go out, so we’ve given each campus an exact time of when they will have totality,” she said. “So, there’s a very short amount of time that they’ll actually be out there, but we’ve made sure that time is really clear for them.”

In addition to Austin ISD, other school districts in or partially in Travis County that will be open include the Leander, Pflugerville, Round Rock and Eanes school districts.

Eanes ISD teacher gets a second shot at seeing a total solar eclipse — this time with her son

Eanes ISD, like Austin ISD, has said this is a great opportunity for students to learn about the eclipse while at school.

Kavita Karandikar, who teaches eighth grade science at West Ridge Middle School, said she has been thinking about how to incorporate the eclipse into her classes since last year. Her infectious enthusiasm for the upcoming eclipse has to do with an experience she had while growing up in India in the 1990s, when a portion of the country was in the path of totality.

“My parents actually took me to view the total solar eclipse back in October of 1995, and they put in a lot of effort to make sure that I could see the eclipse,” she said. “And it was so amazing. It’s an experience that’s going to stay with me my whole life.”

Karandikar was her students’ age when she got to see that eclipse, and she’s excited to share the experience with her students.

“This time it’s special because my son is also one of my students, so I will get to experience it with him,” she said.

Another reason she’s looking forward to the eclipse, Karandikar said, is that it gives students a tangible learning experience. They're not just reading about eclipses in a textbook.

“Because I tell them that science is always current. It’s not all done and you just have to memorize all the answers. It’s never like that — it’s dynamic,” she said. “So when they get to see that, I think their appreciation will increase.”

Karandikar is hopeful her campus will have a festive atmosphere the day of the eclipse, and she said students will be participating in a bunch of activities to learn more about it. Students will, for example, run an experiment to see whether the eclipse has any effect on ultraviolet beads that change color when exposed to sunlight.

“So, this time we are going to tweak it a little bit and we’re going to ask them, ‘Do you think the beads will change color during the eclipse?'" she said.

Karandikar said students will also learn about eclipse-related myths and superstitions from all over the world.

“I am truly excited and looking forward to this. I love this kind of stuff,” she said.

Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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